Self Governance Step 4: Take Out The Trash

Self Governance Project | Take Out The Trash
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As you begin to take control of your life by following the Steps of Self Governance, there will come a point when you realize that there are things in your life that are holding you back. The logical next step is to take out the trash, metaphorically speaking. Meaning, that you ought to get rid of the things that aren’t working for you or are holding you back.

You might think that this should happen at the very beginning. But many people don’t realize that there is trash to take out until they start moving in a direction and find out that their current behavior is inconsistent with their future or new-found purpose.

One of our editors, Cassidy, explains her experience and breaks down the 4th step to Self Governance…

Tidying Up The House

A few years ago, I read a book titled “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo on the recommendation from multiple friends. In the book, Marie discusses the importance of simplifying your home and life and getting rid of anything that you do not love and does not serve you.

As I read it, I felt this urgency to begin cleaning and decluttering my house. I quickly got to work and took hundreds of items of clothing to the local thrift shop. I worked late into the night for weeks on end going through every drawer, cupboard, box, and shelf we owned. I methodically and meticulously held every single item in our house in my hands and determined whether it served me or not.

It took a long time!

It was exhausting physically and mentally. I had to focus all of my energy on getting my house cleaned, and during those few weeks, I felt like I did little else.

It was difficult to let go of so many things, especially things that held such fond memories. I struggled to let go of things I was sure would someday be of use, but that I hadn’t touched in a decade.

After a few weeks, it came to a point where I decided to give up. Just then my husband stepped in and worked alongside me to complete the task. Along with his help and some encouragement from Marie, the author of the book, I eventually had completely de-cluttered my whole home.

When it was all over, I looked around and realized that more than half of the stuff I had previously owned was gone! My home was cleaner, more organized, more open and more “mine” than it had ever been before, even after getting rid of so many of my personal things. Moreover, the stuff that I did have left over brought me immense joy and I was deeply grateful.

How was this? The things that didn’t serve me were no longer cluttering my space. The things that didn’t belong or didn’t bring me joy had previously been blocking my view and access to the things I did love.

Finding Help

This is the same feeling I had as I met with my counselor for my last visit as she told me that I was officially graduated and was done with counseling!

I had disposed of everything in my life that didn’t serve me.

For many years prior to this, I had become bogged down mentally and emotionally with relationships, behaviors, and restricting beliefs that were cluttering my mind. Consequently, I faced a number of health issues and was as emotionally unstable as they come. 

My mind and my emotions were cluttered with junk and trash.

The smallest things would set me off and I was a victim to my circumstances. To say I was unhappy and depressed was an understatement.

When things were at what I thought would be the lowest point, I asked for help out of desperation. I couldn’t bear the burdens any longer and felt myself collapsing under the immense weight I carried.

My spouse sat by me and listened for days. He would sacrifice everything on his agenda, including work, to be by my side and support me.  But it soon became clear that the issues I was facing were beyond the scope of what he was equipped to deal with. We were both suffering now and simply vocalizing and discussing it wasn’t solving my problems.

I needed help. I needed someone to help me clean up the mess that had built up in my life.  

With support from my husband, I decided to get professional help from a counselor. He even agreed to come with me to each session!

Tidying Up The Mind

I soon began seeing a counselor and within a few sessions, realized that my mind could have been on an episode of Hoarders! I had kept every metaphorical box, postcard, wrapper, and trash bag ever placed in my mind. I was convinced that one day I might need these obsolete items and that keeping them around was useful.

Once I recognized how much useless stuff I had inside me that was not serving me and weighing me down, I reluctantly determined it was time to “take out the trash”.

Just as I had done in my home, I had to search through every corner of my mind to determine which people, beliefs, scripts, and processes were not serving me. Slowly and painfully, I took each of them in my hands and evaluated their use in my life.

I then either kept it inside with gratitude for its function in my life, or I made a plan to get rid of it. Some things were more painful than others- like toxic familial relationships. Others, I couldn’t wait to let go of, such as self-deprecating scripts.

Day after day, week after week, I rummaged through my mind in what were some of my darkest days. The darkness I had felt previous to this process failed in comparison to the anguish I experienced.

Cleaning was painful and I took out enough loads of mind garbage to fill a junkyard! It seemed like it was a never-ending process, and just when I thought I had completed the task, I found another box that needed to be unloaded.

Finally Free

When it was finally over, I felt something I hadn’t felt in over a decade- I felt free!

I was able to look around, and my judgment wasn’t clouded; my mind wasn’t darkened. I had gotten rid of each thing that didn’t serve me and had left only the good behind.

This de-junking process, while brutal and painful, yielded a clean slate for me to build on. I now had an open mind and could take the next big step, which was forging my way on a new path I had decided I was going to make many months prior. But none of that could be accomplished until I had gotten rid of the junk that was holding me back.

If I would have proceeded down the path I wanted to be on, it would have been too difficult to continue with all of that trash in the way. I would have given up, pulled back and restarted over and over and over again, never knowing why I couldn’t make lasting changes.

My de-cluttering was an absolutely essential step in moving forward. Until I was able to do that, I would never succeed in taking control of my life.


As you become the governor of your own life, you’ll notice that there are things from your past that come back to haunt you. Things that have shaped your patterns of behavior for years. The only way to move forward and become a truly self-governing person is to face them head on and conquer them.

Each of us has demons. Each of us has things that we would rather not face or deal with. Sometimes it seems easier to simply keep things the way they are and not rock the boat.

But that’s not good for you in the long run.

As weird as it may sound to quote Monica Lewinski, I think she said it best when she said:

“An important part of moving forward is excavating, often painfully, what has gone before. When politicians are asked uncomfortable questions, they often duck and dodge by saying, ‘That’s old news. It’s from the past’ Yes. That’s exactly where we need to start to heal – with the past. But it’s not easy.”

It may not be a one-time event. You may need professional help to do it. It could even take years. As in my case, it could be the hardest thing you ever do. But as you dispose of the trash in your life, you will transform yourself into a self-governing individual who can’t be held captive to anyone or anything; you will be free.

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